Diluvion, an indie deep sea exploration game by Arachnid Games, offers a unique take on the submarine genre by presenting a fantasy world where mankind lives under the sea after a great flood. Using steampunk-inspired machines to explore its depths and face off against dangerous foes, the game is an entertaining undersea adventure, but it also brings a couple of issues in tow.
Developed by Arachnid Games / Published by Gambitious Digital Entertainment
Available on the PC.
*Review code provided by Gambitious Digital Entertainment
In Diluvion, players take on the role of a submarine captain who decides to search within the deep to find the key to humanity’s salvation. The game’s story develops mostly through talking to NPCs as players explore the depths and visit small trade hubs and bars, as well as occasional banter between crew members and discovered documents that build upon the backstory. It’s a neat little story that doesn’t say much, but provides just enough to build up a fantastic and mysterious world.
Gameplay-wise, Diluvion is half exploration and combat and half resource management. Players take to the deep from a 3D third-person perspective after choosing from one of three ships, and go forth to search the depths for loot, resources and answers. At first the ship is as barebones as can be, but players will be able to recruit crewmembers to fill additional roles, like gunner, torpedoes, and sonar, granting the submarine abilities needed to survive the depths.
The controls are okay, but they also take a little getting used to, as moving about requires players to toggle between various speeds while turning and ascending and descending (controllers make navigation easier, but don’t use it for navigating menus and collecting resources – it’s horrible). Thankfully the subs come with a tether rope allowing easy boarding at hubs or other searchable locations, making it easy to stop and explore (though it occasionally makes for some silly visuals as subs impossibly twist and turn as they draw close to their destinations). Combat however is pretty tricky, as you’ll often be shooting at moving targets with a reticle, and their accuracy always seems higher than the players. The shooting mechanics feel good after a while, but players have to learn how to move and shoot at the same time and make themselves hard targets if they want to survive. Thankfully, hiring crew members at various stops will improve the ship’s capabilities, so combat gets better as you gain numbers. Still it makes for some epic moments when players fight off enemy vessels or large and frightening sea creatures.
Then there’s the resource management aspect of the game, as players have to keep the crew alive and well by acquiring air, food and scrap metal, as well as maintaining a home base. Players search the open waters for any locations that can be explored, and gather resources from them by searching through chests, boxes and more. Some of the loot will be sellable in order to hire new crewmembers or buy more resources, while others will allow players to upgrade their subs, create new ones, or improve the stats of their crew. Players will be doing this often, as in order to progress through the game, subs need to be able to withstand the pressure of the depths and stronger attacks of enemies.
The game is pretty straightforward, and it’s pretty entertaining as players explore the world for resources and scavenge fallen enemies to improve and brave the next environment. It can get a little slow sometimes however, as the sub’s speed is pretty sluggish at first, and random underwater currents can keep players stuck in areas until they pass, which can get pretty annoying at times. The exploration aspect can also get a bit repetitive too, with explorable locations housing similar layouts.
A problem I had with the game is the map system, which has players find their way through the sea zones by relying on landmarks instead of a player marker. While it’s a neat idea, each zone is a really big and occasionally empty place, and it’s extremely easy to get lost (especially in tight and similarly designed corridors) or lose time and resources just searching for landmarks and constantly opening the map. Schools of fish often lead players in the right direction and there’s a compass that points to landmarks, but a player position marker would have been better as these sometimes point players right into walls.
Diluvion is ultimately a solid undersea adventure that surprises with its challenging combat, excellent worldbuilding and fun resource management. While it’s a bit flawed due to occasionally slow and bland exploration and an impractical map system, it’s an original experience that makes for a good time.